Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend Recap and a Giveaway

Good Morning Everyone. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. What did you think of the Oscars? Personally, I was disappointed and why do they seem to go on and on and on. The dresses were gorgeous though. I loved almost everything Anne Hathaway wore.
These are the perfect Monday morning mugs. Filled to the brim with hot coffee. We got them at Disneyland when we went for Valentine's Day. I love everything about Disneyland. The rides, the shows, the decorations and of course the food. We were able to go to Club 33 which has the most delicious dishes and you get to be away from the crowds for a little while. Stupidly, I forgot to charge our camera before we went so all I have are a few really bad photos from my Blackberry. But, I have these cute mugs to show for our trip and they make me smile (even on a Monday morning).
For dinner on Saturday night I made Chicken Milanese. It's from Giada's latest cookbook and it's delicious. The recipe called for fennel and this was my first time trying it. The flavor is nice even though I'm not a huge licorice fan. The dish isn't very figure friendly though, as none of the food we had this weekend was. We are both finally recovered from being sick and our appetites are back so we went a little crazy. Back to the gym tomorrow, pending any laziness or desire to sit on the couch for one more night.
Sunday morning we had bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and toast. The weekend just wouldn't be the same without bacon.
I must give credit to the Two Boos Amanda and Andy for this purchase. I had seen this on their blog so when I saw it at Target I thought I'd give it a try. It was quick to make and tasty. I'd definitely keep a box in my pantry for an easy meal.
Sunday Night- Oscar Night. I made french toast for dinner. Cause you can never have enough breakfast. The toast is topped with apples, pecans and powdered sugar. The powdered sugar was my hubby's recommendation since we watched Brunch at Bobby's Sunday morning. Everything Bobby makes I instantly crave and want to try as soon as possible. I hope he comes out with a brunch cookbook so I'll have all his ideas in one place.
And now, The Giveaway. I've passed the 200 posts mark so I figured it's time for a giveaway. I've decided it's going to be a surprise. I'll be packing up a box full of my favorite goodies (hint- most will be from Trader Joes) care package style to the winner.
To enter (sorry, it's only open to residents in the U.S) just leave a comment telling how you spent your weekend and/or one of your favorite things you think I should try. Extra entries if you follow my blog or my twitter. I'll pick a winner Friday night. Good luck.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Sono Baking Company Cookbook

The Sono Baking Company Cookbook is one of the best baking cookbooks I've ever tried. I received it as a Valentine's Day gift (well, early gift since I'm really bad about waiting and since I knew there was a gift in the house I begged and pleaded until my husband let me open-2 days early). Christmas was really bad. I had opened or guessed what all my gifts were by Christmas Eve. Thankfully, he's very tolerant of this childish behavior. LOL
So far I've made the Banana Streusel Muffins on page 26, Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Coconut Cookies on page 82 and The Best Lemon Squares on page 88. There is a photo of the lemon bars below. I made them for a friend for her birthday. I snagged a couple before I packed them for her and they were delicious. Even better when they've been in the fridge for a few hours.

If you like to bake, this is a great cookbook for you. Do you have a favorite cookbook to recommend? I'm always looking for something new to try.
Also, check back in on Monday. I have a giveaway coming up.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cafe Firenze and Fabio- YAY!

Girl's Night this month was at Cafe Firenze and I was beyond thrilled. I am now in possession of photos with Fabio and an autographed cookbook. The food was AMAZING. As soon as I tried the gnocchi, I understood what real gnocchi is supposed to taste like. I was lucky to have my cousin there to share food with so I was able to taste twice as much. YUM! If you live anywhere near Moorpark, you must try his restaurant. He was expediting last night and it was so cool to see him at work. He patiently took photos with anyone who asked and was utterly charming. I must give a shout-out to Jennifer, my friend who made all the arrangements and gave me the chance to be a big dork and meet Fabio.
Can you tell by my super pink cheeks how embarrassed I am?

He's so cute!

Peartini, super delicious.

Pesto Gnocchi.

Butternut Squash Ravioli



Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pumpkin PopTarts?

Over the holidays, I heard about Pumpkin PopTarts and I became slightly obsessed with finding them. Each Target or grocery store errand had to include a search of the breakfast aisle for the elusive Pumpkin PopTarts. Did I ever find them? No. I was mocked my Smore Poptarts, Blueberry, Strawberry and Cherry Poptarts but Pumpkin could not be had. It's not as if I live in a small town. This is Southern California. The land of a Starbucks and Coffee Bean down the street from one another. So, in desperate need, I decided to come up with my own version. Which I did, a few months ago, and just now am blogging about it. Ooops. I was reminded of this because over the weekend I had some pie crust and pumpkin puree leftover so I made them again. Quite yummy but not as convienient as a taking one out of a box and toasting it in my handy dandy toaster. If the makers of PopTarts are reading this, I would love a box if you have any saved from Thanksgiving. I hear they are delicious. In the meantime, I will share my recipe with the rest of the Pumpkin PopTart deprived world.
You'll need 1 pie crust. I like the kind from Trader Joes, but any will do.
Mix together about half a 15oz can of pumpkin puree with 1/4 C brown sugar, 1/2 t vanilla, 1/2 t cinnamon and 1/4 t ground nutmeg. You can increase the sugar depending on how sweet you like it. I also added 2 T of almond meal to thicken the pumpkin mixture. Pour the mixture into the middle of a rolled out pie crust and fold over. Crimp to seal the edges. Paint an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a splash of water) on your pie crust and sprinkle with a little raw sugar. Bake at 425 until golden.
Yes, I realize this looks like a calzone, but I was too lazy to cut into squares. It tastes just a good and even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

I know, I'm a little late with my Valentine's Day post but these cookies were so yummy I have to share. I'm currently home sick which gives me time to catch up on my blogging in between naps. *sniff*
Thisis a basic sugar cookie recipe with lemon frosting.
A few years ago, I took a cookie decorating class and the recipe they gave me for the dough is fantastic. It's the only one I use so I'll share it with you.
Cream together 1 C room temperature unsalted butter and 2/3 C sugar. The texture should be light and fluffy. Then beat in 1 room temperature egg and 1 t vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour and 1/2 t salt. Once these are combined slowly add to the wet ingredients until well combined. I usually double the recipe depending on how many cookies I want. Chill the dough for approx 3 hours before rolling. Bake at 350 deg. Your cooking time will depend on the thickness of your dough once it's rolled out. The cookies are done when they are slightly golden around the edges.
I packaged these up for friends and family. I hope you'll try the recipe.
What did you do for Valentine's Day? I'm a sucker for romantic, sappy holidays.

Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

The theme for February's Dessert Wars is hearts and dark chocolate. Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays so I was really excited for this theme. My hubby and I went to Disneyland on Valentine's Day so I made this dessert the night before. It was so delicious and we ate until our stomachs hurt.
I adapted the Barefoot Contessa's Outrageous Brownie recipe for the use of dark chocolate and then cut a heart into the middle of the cake and filled it with vanilla ice cream. so so yummy.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Roasted Asparagus

Confession, until Wednesday night, I had never tried asparagus. Ok, maybe as a child, but I don't remember so it doesn't count. Truthfully, I have issues with most veggies. Something about the greeness or texture I find gross. I'm really trying to get over this so I'm making a huge effort to try all the veggies I claim to hate.
We decided to have steak and potatoes for dinner which would naturally be served with a veggie on the side. Since asparagus was on sale I thought I might as well give it a try and into the cart it went.
Steaming it would have been a really bad idea for me. I can usually swallow a few pieces of something raw but steam it and NO WAY. Roasting seemed like a good choice so I tossed the offending veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper and roasted at 425 deg. Sadly, I actually had to ask my husband to tell me when they were done which I think was about 15 minutes n the oven.
On my plate- a slice of steak, huge potato and a few very scary asparagus stalks. I forked one, told myself I was going to like it and chewed. It wasn't so bad. I didn't oooohhh and awe about the deliciousness I had been missing out on all the years but I didn't gag either so this is progress.
Next up- I'm thinking eggplant, but we'll see.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Anne Burrell's Lasagna

Do you ever have one of those days when you see a recipe you instantly crave it and must make it right away? That's how I felt about this recipe when I saw Anne Burrell make this lasagna on her show. I'm so glad I tried it because it's a great dish and makes lots of leftovers.
I substituted ground turkey for the sausage, no boil noodles, and a jar of marinara sauce from Trader Joes. You can't see from my lovely photography, but there are mushrooms and zuchinni in there as well as all the yummy yummy cheese.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Game Night

Last weekend we had our friends over for dinner and game night. We played Apples to Apples. If you haven't yet tried this game you must go out and buy it right now. Really, it's that fun. So simple to play and easy for any group of people.
The star of our dinner was pulled pork. I'd never made it before but all the websites said it was easy so I headed to the butcher. Can I just say, I'm glad i bought 6 pounds because for 6 people we almost didn't have enough. I put it in my slow cooker at 4:30pm the night before the party and had to get at 1:30 in the morning when it was finished to put it in the fridge. I probably could have planned it better but it was worth it. So So delicious. I used a BBQ sauce I got from Trader Joes and served it with pickles and sliced red onion. I had big buns and mini slider buns as options.
Pasta salad of my own creation. Sun-dried tomatoes, sliced red bell pepper, kalamata olives, chunks of fontina cheese, and parsley with a garlic pepper dressing.
This is Giada's Green Bean & Pecorino dish.
Melons sprinkled with raw sugar and tossed with chopped mint.
Graham Cracker Apple Pie.

It was so much fun that we're doing another game night in a couple weeks. Next up is Catch Phrase. I've never played so I'm excited to try it out. Do you have a favorite game you play with your family and friends?